South Africa's mobile internet penetration topped 60% in 2021

There is no doubt that using the internet via mobile devices is something the majority of people love to do on a daily basis. It can be hard to quantify this for individual countries, though, which is why looking at the rate of mobile internet penetration helps. The major news for South Africans in 2021 was that this rate topped 60%. This might not sound overly impressive, but it does continue the upward trend the country has seen in this area over recent years.

In 2016, for example, the rate was just over 28% and the years that followed have seen gradual increases. This is a trend that is expected to continue, with penetration rates of around 67% expected by 2026. But why has this happened?

Firstly, you have to look at why people in South Africa want to use the internet on mobile devices. The simple fact is that it is lots of fun and gives people a way to fill in free time, wherever they are. Playing games at a no deposit welcome bonus casino is a case in point and enables people in the country to have something exciting to do when relaxing or waiting for friends. By the same token, using mobile devices which connect to the internet to watch films, use social media or listen to music is also appealing to many people.

Why else has mobile internet penetration gone up in South Africa in 2021?

Much of this is down to the investment made into mobile phone networks and internet connectivity within South Africa – particularly outside of the major cities. Improvements to these networks means that more people than ever can access the internet on mobile devices and has led to an increase in the penetration rate for 2021.

In addition, the rate of mobile internet penetration has risen due to people in South Africa becoming more familiar with using the internet on mobile devices, and more people in South Africa being able to afford mobile devices that connect to the internet. When you also factor in the large number of young people in the country and the love they have for using the internet on mobile devices, it is easy to see why this rate continues to grow.

What impact is this having on South African culture?

Another pertinent question to consider in terms of rising rates of mobile internet penetration in South Africa is the impact on local culture. For many, this is actually very positive.

It enables South Africans to be more connected to the rest of the world and become exposed to new ideas or cultural views. It can also help bring the country together and enable people to use mobile internet to keep up with what is happening elsewhere in the land. All this helps to make for a more united, inclusive society that is exposed to modern global views on key subjects.

Greater levels of mobile internet penetration also impact how people in South Africa choose to have fun in their spare time. Rather than more traditional ways of staying entertained (such as chatting to friends in person or heading out to the shops in the real world), many now will choose to use the internet on mobile devices to stay entertained from home.

In terms of key cultural metrics such as fashion and food, mobile internet usage also has a major impact – but in a positive way for most. This is because it enables people to easily access new cuisines, new ways of dressing and new cultural influences to bring into their daily life. While it is key to ensure traditional South African culture is not lost when this happens, it does show how rising levels of mobile internet use affects South Africa.

How does South Africa’s mobile internet penetration compare to the Anglosphere?

While it is interesting to look at the mobile internet penetration figure in South Africa in isolation and note its potential impact on the country’s culture, it also pays to take a broader view.

Although you could compare the picture in South Africa to almost any other country, it is perhaps more sensible to look at other nations in the Anglosphere – at countries that share similar historic ties to the UK, as South Africa does. The USA is a good example, and this had a mobile internet penetration figure of just over 83% as of 2021.

Australia, on the other hand, showed a rate of around 84% come the end of 2021, while the UK’s rate was a staggering 91.4%. This clearly shows that, despite improvements to South Africa’s own figures, it still has a lower penetration rate than the Anglosphere in general.

How can this be improved in future years?

As already noted, further increases to the rate of mobile internet penetration in South Africa are expected. The big question is how this will happen. The obvious solution is to invest more resources into greater mobile and internet network coverage around the country, with particular focus on faster 5G connections. If this does happen, it will encourage more people in the country to use the internet on their mobile devices.

Penetration rates could also be bumped up by concentrating on the older generation in South Africa who might not as mobile or internet savvy as the younger generation. While young people in the country have grown up in an internet connected mobile world, this is not always true for older people. By showing them the benefits that internet connected mobile devices offer and how easy they are to operate, South Africa could well boost their penetration rates even further.

Mobile internet usage is major news in South Africa

With a population of around 60 million as of the end of 2021, a mobile internet penetration rate of just above 60% in South Africa is not too shabby. It does, however, put the country behind others in the Anglosphere and this will be something that South African politicians will be keen to address as we move forward. With mobile internet usage being so critical to South African culture and the importance it has for the nation’s overall ability to operate in the modern world, it is a key factor.

Manager: Lawrence Muller

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